How to NOT multi-task

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but schedule your priorities.” Stephen Covey

Yesterday, I got a text from Luis, the man who turns my sprinklers on each spring. He asked if he could come over in the afternoon to turn my sprinkler system on. Luis has a waitlist of clients this time of year and I got excited he had availability to come over. But there was an issue…I had a scheduling conflict. My friend, Jody, was coming over that afternoon to catch up over appetizers and La Croix on my newly refurbished patio. (Thank you World Market furniture).

My mind began to race about ways to have both Jody and Luis over in the same afternoon. Luis could turn on the sprinklers, Jody and I could catch up on the porch, and I could step away as needed to answer questions Luis has while Jody hangs out on her own. Something in my gut said that didn’t feel right but my logical mind quickly jumped in and said, “It makes sense. Jody won’t mind, she has a yard with a sprinkler system, she gets it.”

“Multitasking: A polite way of telling someone you haven’t heard a word they’ve said.” – Dave Crenshaw

I intuitively sensed I would be distracted by Luis walking around the yard as Jody and I are diving into deep conversation (which we always do). Also I would be rushed and not fully present with Luis to answer his questions about what time to set the sprinklers to go on and off.

Instead of a win-win, this could be a lose-lose.

“Multi-tasking divides your attention and leads to confusion and weakened focus.” – Deepak Chopra

But my mind continued to justify this multi-tasking idea with, “Luis is really busy and this might be your only chance to have him turn on the sprinklers for a few weeks. If he doesn’t do it this afternoon, you’re going to have to manually water the yard and move the hose around, what a pain. This makes perfect sense to have Luis come over this afternoon, you’ll be home and he’s available.”

My gut said, “This feels stressful and like a bad decision. Luis can come another time, it’s not a big deal. Don’t try to do too many things at once, be present with Jody.”

Deciding to follow my intuition, I texted Luis back with, “Tonight won’t work but how about another time this week?” He replied quickly with, “I’ll be in touch about another time this week.” I took a deep breath of relief (always a sign I did the right thing by following my intuition). I had chosen the less-stress, distraction-free option and turned 100% of my focus, time and attention to Jody. We had a wonderful, deep conversation while enjoying the patio without someone walking around the yard.

“You’re presence is the most precious gift you can give to another human being.” – Marshall B. Rosenberg

We are often bombarded with ways to optimize our time, be more efficient checking off things on our to-do list, and we’re praised for being great multi-taskers.

But what about optimizing our ability to be present with others? What about being more efficient at deeply listening to a friend? What about saying no to multi-tasking and yes to the present moment?

In a world of trying to get as many things done as quickly as possible, we’re distracted which causes us more stress and less peace. We’ve moved away from what nourishes our soul; being present with ourselves and others.

I was tempted and it “made sense” to schedule my time with Jody and appointment with Luis in the same afternoon but it didn’t feel right. I’m grateful I listened to my gut because Jody and I talked on a deep level which wouldn’t have happened if my attention was divided.

For the next few days, I’ll be moving the hose around to keep my lawn watered. It’s a small price to pay in exchange for the soul-nourishing gift of fully present, distraction-free time with my friend.

“There is nothing I want but your presence.” – Rumi

I’d love to hear from you. Does this resonate? Do you desire to be more present but are tempted to multi-task?  Share in the comments below.

Love,
Devon

Self Care 101—Make Your Bed and Lift Your Mood

The Best Way to Start Your Day

The #1 habit I began to change my disorganized mess into tidy success was making my bed every day. Now, it’s a non-negotiable for me that starts every morning off right. It’s amazing how a daily 60-second act has changed my self-perception. Achieving this simple task each day gives me an instant feeling of accomplishment and organization which impacts my mental health and state of well-being.

Making my bed is an act of self-care that has positively affected my other habits. Succeeding in this daily task has improved my attitude along with my general outlook on life.

Better Productivity 

Charles Duhigg writes in his book, The Power of Habit, “Making your bed every morning is correlated with better productivity, a greater sense of well-being, and stronger skills at sticking with a budget.” Making your bed is what he calls a “keystone habit,” something that kick starts a pattern of other good behavior. And since it happens at the very beginning of the day, you’re apt to make better decisions for the remainder of the day thanks to your bed-making routine.

My newfound daily bed-making routine has turned into other productive habits in my home. I now put my laundry away instead of letting it sit in the dryer or hamper, and I rarely leave dishes in the sink overnight. I also started mucking the horse pen in the morning so it’s checked off my to-do list early in the day, freeing up more time in the afternoon.

I found completing this daily task turned into completing more and more tasks. By making my bed, I began to perceive myself as a more productive and present person. My habits started to become more organized. Making your bed can stimulate a chain of positive action steps in other areas of your life. 

Increases Happiness and Lifts your Mood

“When I was researching my book on happiness, making your bed was the number one most impactful change that people brought up over and over,” says author Gretchen Rubin. Turns out, people are happier when everyday tasks in their lives are completed!

Making your bed is also a simple act of self-care. How you live in your home matters to your well-being. Creating for yourself a feeling of being cared for helps lift your mood and lighten your emotional burdens.

I also became aware of a growing sense of worthiness. I asked myself don’t I deserve to have a clean space that I feel happy being in? Yes. Before I took on this new habit, I would have brushed off that question, feeling silly for asking it. Self-care is an act of valuing ourselves and putting ourselves first so we can thrive and have the strength and sense of self-worth that allows us to be there for others.

In times of uncertainty and stress, it’s the small, actionable steps which matter more than ever. Making your bed can have a significant impact on your sense of accomplishment and can be the start of an empowering self-care routine. 

It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect!

I don’t fold my bed into neat little military corners. However, I do pull on the comforter and make it smooth and clean. I plump up the pillows so they look pretty and I fold the cozy grey blanket (my cat Charley’s favorite place to lay) so it sits at the bottom of the bed. Now, when I walk into my bedroom I feel energized and organized. My neatly-made bed acts as the foundation for my confidence and empowers me to feel I can take on any task that comes my way that day. 

Do you make your bed every day? I’d love to hear from you! Share your bed-making habits in the comments below.

Love,
Devon 

The Healing Power of Music

“Music is the universal language of mankind.” – Henry Wadsworth

Music is healing balm and can help us process and release our emotions. Connecting through music enables us to communicate with people and confront thoughts and fears that are hidden below the surface.

Music to Inspire:

“Music has real health benefits. It boosts dopamine, lowers cortisol and it makes us feel great. Your brain is better on music.” – Alex Doman

When I need inspiration, I crank up Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys and the Curtis Mayfield classic Move on Up. When working on a computer, I take mini dance breaks to move my body and energy. Uplifting songs energize me and keep my creativity flowing.

I’m also a big fan of Enya. Her beautiful lyrics and gentle instrumentation inspire me and give me a grounded, spiritual vibe while journaling. I feel particularly inspired when listening to Caribbean Blue.

Music to process Anger:

“Music frees your soul from the dungeon of your mind”. – Wiss Auguste

A close person in my life was recently battling addiction and sabotaging herself and her relationships. To help me navigate my frustration and anger at her situation, I would sit in my parked car and beat on the steering wheel while listening to The Smashing Pumpkins, Bullet with Butterfly Wings. I would yell the lyrics at the top of my lungs, feel a huge energy release, and instantly feel calmer and more at ease.

Music to make you Laugh:

“When music hits you, you dance.” – Lailah Gifty Akita

When I need a good laugh, I play the Green Acres Theme Song or Jungle Boogie, by Kool & the Gang. If you’re feeling unhappy and disconnected from yourself, listen to music that takes you back to a time when you felt on top of your game – when you felt happy and carefree. I guarantee that music will instantly bring back feelings of contentment and happiness.

Make each day Musical:

“If everyone started off the day singing, just think how happy they’d be.” – Lauren Myracle, Shine

Starting your day with music can set the tone for that day. I begin my days with instrumental music playing as a gentle backdrop— Bach, melodic jazz, and “Spa Music”. I end my day with soft music that lulls me into a soothing night’s sleep.

Music helps express my many moods and the various facets of my personality: playful, spiritual, sensual, and deep. I encourage you to create different playlists for your different moods. My current Spotify Playlists range from “Dance Your A&* Off,” to “Swanky Lounge Dinner Music”, “Fun and Uplifting”, “Anger Release”, and “Morning Vibes.”

I’d love to hear how music shapes your life. What are your go-to songs for different moods?

Share in the comments below!

Rocking out,

Devon

Telling My Family I Need Alone Time

I’m getting better at communicating my needs. Last week I was with my family on a vacation in Mexico – my first family trip in 2 years. I’m used to traveling alone, living alone, and being on my own most of the time. I love my family AND my introverted self was worried about being around people non-stop for 5 days.

Our flight was at 6am and the Uber picked us up at 3:30am to head to the airport. I didn’t get much sleep; I was grumpy and grumbling one word responses when anyone tried to talk to me. By the time we arrived in Mexico, I was exhausted and craved alone time.

On the first night after dinner, I didn’t join in and play charades, our family’s favorite game. Instead, I slinked off to bed and mumbled “Sorry, gotta go, good night.” I felt like a rude brat for getting up and practically running away. My inner critic went off on a rant, “You’re acting like a b*&ch, stop being so grumpy, etc., etc..” Ugg, I  could not spend the rest of my vacation feeling guilty for taking care of myself.

The next morning, after a full night’s rest, I rejoined my family at the breakfast table. As everyone began eating, I clinked a fork against my juice glass and said, “I have a family announcement.”

I glanced around the table, then directly at Courtney, my sister-in-law, and Brian, my sister’s boyfriend. I announced, “For those of you new to the family, and those who have known me my whole life, I want to let you know I’m an introvert and need A LOT of alone time. When I leave meals early or don’t stay up late to play family games, please don’t take it personally. I get drained being around people constantly and I recharge by being alone. So when you see me leaving early, I’m not trying to be rude, I need to recharge my energy. Then I can come back in a great place and hang out with you guys, which I really want to do on this trip.”

As I spoke my voice was a bit shaky, a clear indicator I’m acting courageously by being vulnerable and sharing something personal. In spite of fearing how I might be perceived, my intuition said I MUST SPEAK UP or my vacation would be miserable.

After my family announcement, everyone at the table thanked me. The conversation opened up to who else was an introvert. The extroverts spoke up first. My brother, Hunter, shared he needs a day of chill time after about 4 months of non-stop activity and being around people. Brian said he loves being around people and is an extrovert all the way. Then everyone looked at my dad, an off the charts extrovert, who thrives in social settings and is happiest when talking with people….he smiled and concurred.

As we continued around the table, I asked my mom if she is an extrovert or introvert? “Extrovert,” she replied without hesitation. Then she shared a prime example…while she was raising my 3 siblings and me at home, she recharged her energy by getting out of the house and teaching English and Drama to high school students! Definitely an extrovert.

My sister, Jaden, chimed in and said after her bartender shift, she turns down the offer to stay and have a drink with her co-workers. She prefers to go home, be alone, and recharge by watching movies on the couch with her dog. She’s an introvert.

I shared that I recharge by being in nature, journaling, reading and taking long walks on the beach…alone! Then, after my solitude fix, I can enjoy long walks on the beach with others.

I felt proud of myself for speaking up. In turn, it opened up a new conversation in the family and opportunity for us to understand each other better.

Later that night, I stayed after dinner and played charades with my family. I had fun and did NOT feel guilty or criticize myself for leaving after 20 minutes of game time. It was a great combo of being with my family and honoring my introvert. When my energy started to plummet, I left gracefully, without apology, and headed to bed.

No one questioned or judged me. Most importantly, I didn’t judge me.

How do you recharge your energy? By being alone or with others? Being an introvert or extrovert is similar to being right or left handed; it’s how you’re wired.

Are you an introvert or extrovert? I’d love to hear, share in the comments below.

Knowing what you need is empowering; communicating what you need is liberating.

Devon

Adventure on Kenosha Pass

Adventure and the Joy of Feeling Alive

When I have too much routine, I go crazy. I crave adventure, I need adventure, especially in nature. Adventure is food for my soul.

One of the beauties of working from home is creating my own schedule. I go on mid-week adventures and spontaneously pick places to explore.

This week I chose Kenosha Pass, a gorgeous place to hike, especially when the fall leaves start to change color. As soon as the thought popped in my head, the decision was made – Kenosha Pass or Bust.

The adventure began when I started my car. I opened the sun roof, blasted “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” and headed westbound.

One Eagles playlist and an hour and 15 minutes later, I pulled up to the Kenosha Pass trailhead. I smiled when I saw only a few cars in the parking lot. The less people, the better – I was there to connect with the mountains.

I grabbed my backpack and trekking poles out of the car, locked the doors, and headed toward the trail.

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” – John Muir

Adventure on Kenosha Pass

Once I got moving, I found my rhythm and tuned into the meditative click clack of the trekking pokes against the dirt.

Adventure on Kenosha Pass

I felt strength in my legs, and excitement in my veins not knowing what I would come across. I love the feeling of the unknown – it’s when I feel most alive.

Devon on an adventure

Thirty feet off the trail, I spotted a fort and felt a twinge of eerie Blair Witch Project vibe. I walked over with my heart pounding. Ducking my head in the fort, I admired the craftsmanship and the coziness…what a commitment to build this thing, geez. Whomever built it knew what they were doing.

Fort on Kenosha Pass

I proceeded back to the trail and continued onward and upward.

When I reached the high point, I took a deep “awe-hale” as the LOOOONGGG view of Kenosha Pass came into sight. “Thank You, God” came out of my mouth in gratitude. The vastness and beauty knocked all thoughts out of my head…I was 100% present. 

Adventure View on Kenosha Pass

I sat down in the grass, stared into the view, and took it all in. My trivial worries from home vanished and were replaced with peace. Nature puts everything into perspective.

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” – Albert Einstein

Devon reflecting on her adventure on Kenosha Pass

A Luna Bar and an hour later, I made my way back down the trail feeling connected to something greater than myself.

View of the adventure on Kenosha Pass

With the parking lot in sight, I tuned back to the trail and inhaled a breath of gratitude into every cell of my being. My soul was fed.

Adventure connects me to what matter most…the joy of feeling alive.  

Do you crave adventure in your life? I’d love to hear from you….what type of adventures do you like to go on?

Adventure is calling, and I must go,
Devon